Single-leg forward hopping exposures adversely affect knee joint health among persons with unilateral lower limb loss: A predictive model

Joseph G. Wasser, Julian C. Acasio, Brad D. Hendershot, Ross H. Miller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Single-leg hopping is an atypical, yet convenient, method of ambulation for individuals who have sustained unilateral lower limb-loss. Hopping is generally discouraged by therapists but many patients report hopping, and the potential deleterious effects of frequent hopping on knee joint health remains unclear. Mechanical fatigue due to repeated exposures to increased or abnormal loading on the intact limb is thought to be a primary contributor to the high prevalence of knee osteoarthritis among individuals with unilateral lower limb amputation. We aimed to compare knee joint mechanics between single-leg hopping and walking at self-selected paces among individuals with unilateral lower limb-loss, and estimated the associated probability of knee cartilage failure. Thirty-two males with traumatic unilateral lower limb-loss (22 transtibial, 10 transfemoral) hopped and walked at a self-selected pace along a 15-m walkway. Peak knee moments were input to a phenomenological model of cartilage fatigue to estimate the damage and long-term failure probability of the medial knee cartilage when hopping vs. walking. We estimate that each hop accumulates as much damage as at least 8 strides of walking (p < 0.001), and each meter of hopping accumulates as much damage as at least 12 m of walking (p < 0.001). The 30-year failure probability of the medial knee cartilage exceeded a “coin-flip” chance (50%) when performing more than 197 hops per day. Although a convenient mode of ambulation for persons with unilateral lower limb-loss, to mitigate risk for knee osteoarthritis it is advisable to minimize exposure to single-leg forward hopping.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109941
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Volume109
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amputation
  • Cumulative damage
  • Joint loading
  • Knee osteoarthritis

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